5 Things Every Social Worker Should Know About Abusive Relationships

A few decades ago, there wasn’t much known about domestic abuse and social workers weren’t equipped to deal with it, today, there are years of research and statistics that are available. Years ago, people might have known it existed, but it was considered a private family issue. Today, social workers need to be able to spot and deal with domestic violence since it can lead to many problems within the family. These are some facts that social workers should be aware of when it comes to domestic violence.

1. Domestic Violence is Not Always About Anger

While it’s long been thought that domestic violence is about the abuser losing becoming angry and striking the victim, it’s more about the abuser trying to control and manipulate the victim. When the victim doesn’t do as she’s told, the abuser escalates the persuasion techniques, which involves violence as well as fear. One constant theme seems to be that the male in the relationship is trying to control and manipulate the woman into doing exactly what he wants. That can be done by limiting her access to enough financial support for her to leave him as well as other manipulative scheming. The abuser can be incredibly charming and is not always the stereotypical drunk.

2. Abusive Relationships Impact the Entire Family

Whether the children in the relationship witness the fights and violence or not, they can feel the incredible tension in the house. Most likely they are not missing the fights and bruises either. In many cases, the abuser doesn’t stop with the spouse, but begins to hit the children as well. Normally, this happens when the children don’t listen and the adult hits them. The children will often grow up to become abusers themselves.

3. Domestic Violence is a Crime That Impacts Many

Striking another person, whether it’s in anger or not, is against the law. Victims of domestic violence have the right to expect protection from law enforcement even when that abuse is happening in their own homes. Research shows that in up to 50 percent of marriages there’s been at least one time where violence has occurred in the home. It’s not relegated to families who are poor or have limited education either. It impacts those in all education levels in many kinds of communities regardless of race too.

4. It’s a Crime That Hurts Women

Of the domestic violence cases that are seen by the courts each year, approximately 95 percent of them involve a male abuser and female victim. While women can and will act badly in relationships, they are not abusing men at the same rate as men are. Violence can also happen in gay and lesbian relationships too, but these incidents are thought to not be reported as often as heterosexual relationships.

5. Women Involved in Abusive Relationships are Not Weak

The stereotype of the battered woman paints her as a victim who is too cowardly or pathetic to leave her relationship. While they might be scared to leave, many women in abusive relationships are strong women who are impacted by the abuse and manipulation. They’re certainly not weak or crazy like the stereotypes would have people believe.

Domestic violence is prevalent in today’s society, and social workers must be able to recognize it within relationships to be able to respond with the appropriate help. They have to look past stereotypes about the victim as well as the abuser to see behind the public faces that are portrayed.

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